This was seen by many as a devastating loss to the Mountaineers, as was the firing of assistant head coach Steve Dunlap.
However, I say that the return of Lonnie Galloway from Wake Forest and Tony Gibson from Arizona more than offset the losses.
Add in the hiring of Brian Mitchell as cornerbacks coach, and I see a definite improvement in next year's defense as well as continued success in the passing game.
I consider the return of Gibson and the loss of Spavital a wash. Gibson is an accomplished safeties coach. He's also an excellent recruiter, especially in western Pennsylvania.
Gibson's dismal record as a defensive coordinator and assistant head coach at Michigan and Arizona do not reflect upon his abilities as a position coach.
Former WVU players Larry Williams and Mortty Ivy had nothing but praise for Gibson in an interview with Geoff Coyle of WVIllustrated.com.
As a defensive backs coach at WVU under Rich Rodriguez, Gibson produced eight All-Big East performers and had six of his players selected in the NFL draft.
Mitchell was fired by East Carolina as its defensive coordinator following the 2012 season after three seasons. As with Gibson, I say that his firing in no way reflects upon his abilities as a position coach.
Prior to his three years at East Carolina, he was a very successful cornerbacks coach at BYU for 11 seasons before spending four seasons at Texas Tech. Mitchell also has a reputation as a successful recruiter.
The return of Galloway is a hiring coup on the part of head coach Dana Holgorsen. Galloway was the receivers coach at WVU under former head coach Bill Stewart.
He tutored Jock Sanders and others to successful careers. As a recruiter, Galloway brought Tavon Austin and Bruce Irvin to the Mountaineers' fold.
Current receivers coach and offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson is expected to move to quarterbacks coach as well as continue his duties as offensive coordinator.
Coach Holgorsen will remain involved in the development of the quarterbacks as well as offensive play-calling.
Update: It appears as though the three new coaches have not only upgraded the coaching staff, the recruiting has been on an upswing since these three came in.
Highly rated Shelton Gibson was gone. Flipped by Pitt. His mother blamed it on the lack of real interest by the WVU coaching staff. Coach Dunlap had been his lead recruiter. Coach Gibson stepped in and convinced him to take an official visit to WVU on a weekend he was supposed to visit Tennessee.
The young man apparently had a very good visit because now he is wavering on his commitment to Pitt. He saw where he could fit in Holgs offense with his friend Chavis Rawlins. Recently enrolled Rawlins is also turning into an impressive unofficial recruiter himself.
When I originally wrote this story, WVU had one solid offensive lineman commitment. Now they are informing recruits not yet offered that they have no more room for offensive linemen.
Something good is going on since the coaching changes. Just in time.
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